Friday, September 19, 2014

We are Playoff Bound! WooHoo!

It's now official.  The Dodger will be playing October playoff Baseball.

This afternoon, the Dodgers defeated the Chicago Cubs in glorious fashion and clinched, at minimum, a tie for a wild card playoff berth.  Then, with the Milwaukee Brewers defeat at the hands of the Pittsburgh Pirates this evening the Dodgers now claim an official berth. 

Of course, the "Boys in Blue" are not content with just the wild card.  They want to win the division.  So, you shouldn't expect the Dodgers to let up now. 

Per Don Mattingly via Dylan Hernandez at the LA Times:
"If you're able to do that, you've at least given yourself a chance to play when there's only going to be 10 teams left," Manager Don Mattingly said before the Milwaukee outcome. "If that's your only way, you're good with it. But you feel like winning the division is really what you're here to accomplish."
Clayton Kershaw seconded that notion, via Bill Plunkett on twitter:

Heck, Matt Kemp has an even bigger goal in mind, via Bill Plunkett on twitter:

The Dodgers now have a magic number of seven games for a West Division Championship, and with the Giants currently losing 5 to 0 to the Padres at the time of this writing that number could drop to six.  As it now looks, the Dodgers may very well be able to secure a Western Division trophy against the Giants at home at the beginning of next week.  How great would it be to celebrate that with the Gaints watching from the dugout?

Graphic above via SportsNet LA on twitter

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2014 Topps Heritage Minor League Baseball - The Dodger Base Cards

Topps just released a brand new Baseball card set and it's an minor league version of their Heritage card set they put out in March.  It is called 2014 Topps Heritage Minor League and it includes some of the best and brightest prospects in the game.  Go here for a complete checklist.  As you can see, this set borrows the vintage 1965 Topps Baseball card design.

There are seven Dodger prospects in the 200 card base set.  Check them all out below.  Of note, Jesmuel Valentin is no longer a part of the Dodger franchise.  He was traded to the Phillies a few weeks back as a part of the Roberto Hernandez trade.  Also, this will be the last time we see a Dodger prospect wearing an Isotope uniform on a Baseball card.  The Dodgers recently purchased an ownership stake in the Oklahoma City RedHawks AAA club, and will begin playing there next year.

BTW, there are Short Printed Variation cards of Julio Urias and Joc Pederson, but I have yet to see them.  I hope to have photos of those cards to share next week.

#17 Zach Lee                                      #22 Corey Seager

#55 Julio Urias                                 #76 Jesmuel Valentin

#127 Chris Anderson                                 #147 Tom Windle

#160 Joc Pederson

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Blog Kiosk: 9/19/2014 - Dodger Links - A Dodger Win from Behind

The Dodgers came in to Wrigley Field with all of the motivation in the world.  They had ten games left to play in the long season and with just a few more wins they can take the division.  Unfortunately, it took longer than desired for them to finally put their game faces on - unlike Matt Kemp as evidenced in the photo taken above by Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers 2014.  He joined a young Dodger fan before the game for a "selfie scowl" that I'm sure the little tyke will share with his friends.  Go here to check out more pics by Jon taken yesterday.

Things were looking bleak for the Dodgers in the early going.  They quickly fell behind to the Cubs, 4 to 1, going into the seventh inning.  Zack Greinke could not hold back the young Chicago bats as they knocked out nine hits against our second ace.  Then, the Dodger bats woke up.  In the seventh inning they knocked out three singles, two doubles, and scored five runs to take a lead they would not relinquish.  

The Dodgers 8 to 4 victory drops their magic number to 8 games and increases their lead over the Giants to 2.5 games.  Clayton Kershaw pitches this afternoons game against old friend Edwin Jackson in hopes of attaining his league leading 20th win.  Check out some more links below:
But sometime within the last week or so somebody finally got to Puig. Whether it was Mark McGwire or John Valentin or Don Mattingly is anybody’s guess, but the message finally sunk in and Puig moved in closer to the plate – and the results have been immediate and staggering. 
  • Topps has just release a retro 1969 Dodger team poster (numbered to only 99 copies) on their website.  Go here to check it out.  There is also a parallel version numbered to only 10 copies available.  The "1 of 1" version is already sold out.  Check out the more common poster on the right, priced at $29.99.
  • Via Ron Shah at FanGraphs, "Dodgers’ Lefty Tom Windle Shows Power Stuff."
  • Via Cary Osborne at Dodger Insider, "J.P. Howell nears single-season Dodger reliever ERA record."
  • Via a Dodger fan was able to save the life of a young Giants fan with a bone marrow transplant.
  • Via Jeff Sullivan at Fan Graphs, "Zack Greinke’s Turned Into an Actual Hitter."
But all the while, as Greinke’s numbers have bounced around, he’s genuinely improved. And he’s improved to the point where, now, Greinke might be a half-decent hitter, and I don’t mean relative to pitchers this time.
  • Via All About Cards, Topps announced that the 2014 Finest Rookie Auto Redemption #1 will be Sandy Koufax.  So, if you pulled that card wondering who it might be then you are in luck. I will be sure to share a photo once they are sent out by Topps.

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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Nothing but Great Oddball Dodger Memorabilia at ITPC

If you know me then you know that I love the oddball stuff.  There's nothing like cruising around eBay in search of an unusual pin or unique porcelain statue to put on my shelf.  Those funky looking collector plates or vintage hardly-used ashtrays are my favorite kind of finds at garage sales or flea markets.  Heck, I even have a couple of children's Dodger themed dolls in my collection.  So, when something strange and great shows up in an online auction I figured I should show them here.

The current Inside the Park Collectibles auction includes this mid-50's Brooklyn Dodger World Championship doll on auction.  I've only seen a handful of these over the past decade.

I actually have one of these in my collection, but I can't display it.  Long story short, the eBay description for the doll said it had a musty smell to it (as full disclosure), but I figured it couldn't be that bad.  Well, I was wrong.  It was worse than bad, so it current sits wrapped in an air-tight plastic bag and hidden away in a cardboard box.

The doll below, on the other hand, is as mint as you can get.
(Auction Link)

This next doll is what I see in my nightmares. 

I ain't kidding... That is one scary looking creature.

The auction description claims it's from Brooklyn 1950's, but I think it's some kind of voodoo hex doll made by a Giants fan in Manhattan.  It was no doubt created to jinx our beloved "Boys in Blue."  Still, I have to seriously consider bidding on it.
(Auction Link)

This next item is not a doll, but it's just as odd.  Below is a circa 1950's cardboard visor with the famed Brooklyn Dodger "Bum" emblazoned on it.  Awesome!  If it wasn't already priced at over $100 bucks I'd be all over it.
(Auction Link)

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Blog Kiosk: 9/18/2014 - Dodger Links - Some Dodger Odds and Ends

I won't bother with a recap of Wednesday's game 'cause.... well... it was horrible... and embarrassing... and everything you might expect from a game at Coors Field.  Maybe it was the blistering 85 degree partly cloudy weather (I'd kill for that right now) or the high altitude air in Denver, but the Dodgers just did not come out to play.

That being said, let's just take a step back and enjoy the moment.  We have ten games left in the season, and as Jon Weisman of Dodger Insider noted we only have to go 3-3 in games not pitched by Kershaw or Greinke to win the division (assuming, of course, that they win those games). We are in a great position, and I firmly believe that they've got this. 

So, enjoy the photograph above of a couple of Dodger youngsters enjoying an evening out in Chicago.  Joc Pederson and Miguel Rojas got hazed along with other rookies by the Dodger veterans, and they were sure to enjoy every second of it - as they should.  Go here to check out more pics of this season hazing.  The pic above is via Miguel Rojas on twitter.  BTW, Blackhawks suck!

The Dodgers lead over the Giants is down to 2.0 games and their magic number to win the West stays at 9 games.  The magic number for a playoff spot (wild card berth) is down to four games.  Check out some more links below:
“I look at it as one inning, honestly, and it didn’t go good,” Mattingly said of Frias’ Coors Field nightmare. “We’re going to look at the body of work and he doesn’t have a huge body of work. He hasn’t had anything like this obviously. But he’s given up some runs and bounced back from it.

“I think he’s a kid who’ll bounce back, honestly. Hopefully he’ll put it behind him. There’s not a whole lot you can do about outings like this. It’s easier for me to say that than for him to have to deal with it. But I think he’ll bounce back.”
  • I can't wait for this to come out.  Via Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports, "Filmmaker Ken Burns vows true portrait of 'most important person in the history of baseball'" - on Jackie Robinson.
“It has to do with the laziness of our media culture, the ability for superficiality to trump depth. For us to even call someone a hero without acknowledging other sides is the opposite of what a hero is. The Greeks will tell you what defines heroism is a war between their very obvious strengths and their possibly equal weaknesses. We’re perpetually disappointed in our media culture because we assume perfection and incorrectly label heroes someone that does something out of the ordinary. But Jackie Robinson is the very definition of a hero, a vey complicated person who’s struggling in the larger stage forced upon him to deal with content of character.”
  • Panini America has shared some preview pics from their upcoming 2014 Immaculate Baseball set.  This is super high-end set.  Check out the Hanley Ramirez and Yasiel Puig cards below.  Go here to check out more preview pics.  
There is one thing I find a bit disconcerting about this set.  The preview pics include a Satchel Paige game-used jersey relic card that appears to use a Kansas City Monarchs jersey.  My first thought is that there can't possibly be many of those in existence (if any at all), so the cost to purchase that jersey would be astronomical - like in the tens of thousands, or more.  Considering that cost and the recent game-used jersey scandal that is sending dealers to the federal penitentiary, I have to wonder if it's even real. 

  • This is a helpful guide.  Zach Helfand at the LA Times writes, "Do's and Don'ts for baseball autograph seekers."
  • I can't think of anything more worse than this.  There will be a reality show called 'Hockey Wives' and LA Kings captain Dustin Brown's wife will be in it, via Greg Wyshynski at Puck Daddy.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Some Cosplay Rookie Hazing by the Dodgers

(pic via Justin Turner on instagram)

Even on a day when the Dodgers get walloped by the Rockies the sophomoric tradition of dressing up your rookies in the most ridiculous costumes possible continues. 

And thank goodness for that!  Life is too short and the season too long to get worked up over a loss at Coors Field.  After all, these professionals have to take each game one at a time, and allowing this afternoons loss to play with your head does nobody any good.

So, I celebrate this evenings rookie hazing event by sharing the handful of photos that have already made their way to social media.  Certainly, more will show up, so when they do I'll be sure to update this post.  In the meantime, check out some of the cosplay hijinks below.

Can you name the players in the group photos directly above and below?
(pic via Dodgers on instagram)

Yasiel Puig had to make sure Captain America had his headdress on right.
(pic via Dodgers on instagram)

Can you guess who was Captain America?  That's right.  It's Joc Pederson.
(pic via David Vassegh on twitter)

So, who's Donatello?
(pic via Dodgers on instagram)

Erisbel Arruebarrena is the sock puppet.
(pic via Dodgers on instagram)

BTW, Dodger veteran reliever Jamey Wright was put incharge of this event.  I think he did a fine job.
(pic via Alanna Rizzo on instagram)

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Weekend Autograph Opportunities: Steve Sax

Here are this weekends autograph opportunities and events throughout the Southland. As always, be sure to check the Blue Heaven Calendar for other events (a link can always be found on the tab at the top of this page, just left of center), and always confirm with the establishment. Everything is subject to change.  Please email me with any tips about upcoming events in Southern California.  As the rest of the week progresses I'll update this post with other events (if there are any) as I become aware of them.  Also, I don't always list every event below, so be sure to check my Calendar.  I always try to favor free signing events over paying events.  Click on any pic to embiggen.


Steve Sax will be at Manuel's Original El Tepeyac Cafe in the City of Industry on Sunday, September 21, 2014 from 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM.  Hat Tip: Roberto at Vin Scully is My Homeboy. Prices: Autograph + Photo-Op = $25.00.

Manuel's Original El Tepeyac Cafe #2
13131 Crossroads Pkwy South
City of Industry, CA 91746

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Blog Kiosk: 9/17/2014 - Dodger Links - Moving AA & AAA to Oklahoma

It was a beautiful Colorado evening last night.  It was cool and partly cloudy with a slight breeze blowing in from left.  Heck, it was so nice the Dodgers decided to take a breather.  Actually, that's not entirely true.  The Dodgers got their hits, they just couldn't drive them home.

Once again, every Dodger position player (including the pitcher) got a hit, but they could only muster four runs.  Per Jon Weisman at Dodger Insider:
The National League’s No. 1 team with runners in scoring position had three hits but 11 outs, stranding 10 runners and wasting most of their 16 hits, including three by Justin Turner and Yasiel Puig’s first home run since July 31.
Yeah, it was one of those nights.  The Dodger loss and an subsequent Giants win over the Diamondbacks keeps the magic number at none.  The two photos above were taken by Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers 2014Go here to check out more pic by him from yesterday's game.  Below are some links to check out:
As much coverage as a certain Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher has gotten in these pages (and others) in recent weeks, there are other good stories coming out of Chavez Ravine. Zack Greinke, even if he had to resort to hitting a home run to escape Clayton Kershaw's monstrous shadow this week, has been quietly having another solid year.
  • It is now official.  Per a Dodger press release, they are moving their AAA operations from Albuquerque to Oklahoma City in 2015.  In fact, they are buying a piece of the team.
The owners of the Los Angeles Dodgers have announced that they have reached an agreement with Mandalay Baseball Properties, LLC on the purchase of the Oklahoma City RedHawks.  The purchase would be part of a partnership in which Peter Guber will be the Executive Chairman and Managing Director of the team and partners Paul Schaeffer and Larry Freedman will manage the operations of the company.

The Dodgers also announced they will change their triple-A franchise affiliation to Oklahoma City in 2015 and continue to play in the Pacific Coast League, while moving to the American Northern Division. 
As Eric Stephen at True Blue LA notes, the Dodgers are also expected to move their AA club in Chattanooga to Tulsa.
The Dodgers contingent will make their way to Tulsa, 107 miles away, for a 1 p.m. PT press conference for what the Double-A Tulsa Drillers called on Wednesday "a major announcement regarding the franchise."
  • Via J.P. Hoornstra at Inside the Dodgers, "Dodgers’ third base coach details the perils of elevation on a player’s evolution."  JP speaks with Dodger coach Lorenzo Bundy about the difficulty in evaluating players in Albuquerque.  
  • Via a Dodgers press release, Clayton Kershaw has been named the Dodgers' nominee for the 2014 Roberto Clemente Award.
  • Via David Brown at Big League Stew, "Jake Peavy on next start: 'I was just in the shower thinking about Dee Gordon'"
  • Via Jon Heyman at CBS Sports, "DeJon Watson will be brought back for second interview in Arizona."
Watson, who's been considered instrumental in the development of Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, star outfielder Matt Kemp and many other young Dodgers, served as the scouting director and farm director of the Dodgers before rising to become an assistant to Ned Colletti in L.A. The Dodgers appear on their way to a second straight NL West crown.
  • GCRL shares the evolution of Dodger first baseman through baseball cards, part II.
  • I just love trip reports to amusement parks in foreign lands.  Check Chaos and Kanji at Enakyo Wonderland, Gifu Prefecture, Japan.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Welcome to the Blue, Daniel Coulombe!

Filed under unexpected, the Dodgers called up Chattanooga Lookouts left-handed reliever Daniel Coulombe to join the bullpen.  He is 24-years old, 5' 10", 185 lbs. and will wear #64.  Also, this is his very first trip to the "Show".  Congrats, kiddo!

Coulombe was originally drafted by the Dodgers in 2008 in the 17th Round, but elected to go to college instead.  He pitched at USC, then Texas Tech and had Tommy John Surgery in 2011.  Then in 2012 he was again drafted by the Dodgers in the 25th Round and immediately signed up.  Since then, Coulombe has quickly advanced from rookie ball to AA in less than three season.  Per a Dodger press release:
Coulombe, 24, combined to go 3-0 with six saves and a 2.89 ERA in 49 relief appearances with Single-A Rancho Cucamonga and Double-A Chattanooga this year. He posted a 2.57 ERA (6 ER/21.0 IP) with 31 strikeouts and only 10 walks in 18 regular-season appearances with the Lookouts after his July 17 promotion and also helped key Chattanooga's run to the Southern League championship series with three saves during the postseason. Overall, Coulombe limited opponents to a .214 batting average in the minors with 92 strikeouts and only 27 walks in 65.1 innings, including a .204 mark against left-handed hitters (20-for-98) and a .221 average against righties (31-for-140).
Daniel Coulombe has been very good this year, and could prove to be a sleeper arm in the 'pen.  He joins a left-handed bullpen that includes JP Howell, Scott Elbert, Paco Rodriguez and Paul Maholm.

In celebration of Daniel Coulombe's becoming a Dodger for the first time I made the above fantasy card for him.  I used a photograph taken by Ron Cervenka of Think Blue LA and the 1987 Topps Baseball card design.

Below are his career statistics, via Baseball Reference:

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2014 Topps Triple Threads Baseball - The Dodger Unity Jumbo Cards

Here is a final look at Topps 2014 Triple Thread Baseball card set.  Go here to check out all of my past post on this set.  Check out all of the Unity Dodger insert cards below.

BTW, according to a checklist there are three different AJ Ellis Unity Single Jumbo Relic cards, but I have only seen two different versions so far.  If you have a photo of the missing third card please pass it along. I also need a better photo of the Josh Beckett card.

Unity Single Jumbo Relics Set

#UJR-AE A.J. Ellis

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